Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is screening tonight at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, and a third installment in the film's teaser series has been unveiled to highlight the occasion. The first Master teaser offered a cryptic snapshot of WWII vet Freddie Sutton's (Joaquin Phoenix) destructive cycle of living, followed by a second teaser hinting at the effect the title character's (Philip Seymour Hoffman) teachings have on Freddie's mental-workings.
The third Master teaser explores what happens as Freddie is first introduced to the spiritual lessons passed down by Hoffman's character and his wife (Amy Adams). It forgoes the sense of impending doom of its predecessors, in favor of a gentler, lyrical atmosphere that reflects Sutton's newfound hope and affection for another "lost soul" (Madisen Beaty).
Whereas the original two Master trailers recall Anderson's There Will Be Blood with their unnervingly disjointed Jonny Greenwood score, the third short promo bears a stronger resemblance to the hazy daydream feeling of the filmmaker's Punch-Drunk Love. Early audience reactions and descriptions of The Master suggest the movie falls somewhere between those two titles, so it's appropriate the teasers should reflect that tonal dichotomy.
By comparison, the full Master trailer comes closest to touching on the long-asserted influences of the L. Ron Hubbard story (and his creation of Scientology) on Anderson's film. Hoffman has played down the ties to Hubbard, telling EW:
"... There's nothing about how I'm behaving or talking that echoes [Hubbard]. I thought of a lot of other bigger-than-life personalities, charismatic people like Orson Welles. Joaquin's character is like a beaten dog, no matter where he goes, [he] gets into severe trouble. And somehow I'm able to deal with him."
Anderson's done his fair share of heavy-lifting and traveling uphill, in order to make The Master. The auteur had plans to begin production in 2010, but ended up having to put those plans on hold for almost a year. Hoffman is the sole member of the cast Anderson originally assembled who appears in the actual film, while Jeremy Renner and Reese Witherspoon (Phoenix and Adams' predecessors) moved on to other projects following The Master's initial collapse.
That might've been for the best as it's kind of difficult to envision Renner inhabiting the role of Freddie Sutton with as much unhinged gusto as Phoenix does (in this writer's opinion, of course). Early buzz is that Phoenix delivers a career-best performance in The Master, while the picture as a whole has been earning praise for powerful acting, beautiful 70 mm cinematography, and great direction by Anderson (it's an early Oscar contender, for sure).
The Master begins a limited U.S. theatrical release on September 14th, 2012.